Black Tampa Native Makes Harvard Law Review
Provided by Rev. Willie G. Dixon
Rachel Favors, a Tampa native and 2014 high honors graduate of the International Baccalaureate program at King High School, was named to the prestigious Harvard Law Review in December 2020. Rachel, a 2018 graduate of Dartmouth College, is in her second year of law school at Harvard. She is the first Black from the Tampa Bay area in recent memory to make Harvard Law Review. Things she learned growing up in Tampa contributed to her being able to be named to this distinguished group. Below is a brief interview with her.
What made you want to be a lawyer? I grew up listening to my father tell stories about
growing up in Georgia during segregation and the civil rights movement and what they had to
do overcome racism. He spoke of how the law could be used change and impact society in a
positive way such as with the Brown v. Board of Education case. During college, I interned at
the U.S. Department of State and I was interested in a lot of international issues like trade and
human rights. I met a lot of lawyers and watched how they used their knowledge of
international agreements and different legal systems around the world. I observed how they
combined their knowledge of the law with policy and history. So, I decided law school was the
best option for me to combine my interest in history, the legal profession and policy.
Who were your role models growing up? My major role model was my dad. I very much
admired the way he was able to overcome many obstacles and barriers and still achieve and
find his way to success. He taught me about “learning, earning and passing it on.” I learned my work ethic from him. He told me “even if you are not the smartest person in the room, no one should ever out work you.” The work ethic he instilled in me has been very beneficial as I
approached the different issues in my life. From a professional perspective, Michelle Obama
was my role model. A wonderful Black woman who was able to form her own avenue in the
world in the legal profession and as First Lady. After leaving the White House, she continues to write books and get involved in social issues while still being a mother and wife. She has had a great career while demonstrating all of those qualities.
How do you feel about Kamala Harris becoming Vice-President? I’m very excited, as a fellow
member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., it’s exciting to see her as a Black woman rise to
that level of achievement. It’s a great national story to see a woman of mixed heritage, Indian
and African descent, be able to impact the lives of many young girls. She is a great national
story that already has long list of achievements including being a U.S. Senator and Attorney
General in California. Just like President Obama, she will be a role model for many generations with the work she will do as Vice-President.
How do you feel about making Harvard Law Review? It was a very exciting and challenging
process. Before coming to Harvard, my only understanding of the Law Review was that
President Obama was the President during his time. It was something that was very influential
for his career. So, originally, that was one of my motivations for wanting to make the Law
Review. There is a lot of prestige that comes with it, but the work I am able to do is the most
rewarding factor. Being on the Law Review has measured up to my expectations. I have
become a stronger writer and someone that understands legal arguments. As a member of Law Review, we select many articles that are going to be published. Almost all major lawyers,
professors and practitioners of the law want to be published in the Law Review. So, we have a
very unique role as students when it comes to selecting articles to be published. We get to
select and edit what is going to be published, so we take our role very seriously. I have been
exposed to many different aspects of the law from criminal law to administrative law and
impacts the way a look at and review issues. You have to defend your viewpoint to get other
members of Law Review to support your position on a particular issue which helps you develop an argument strategy. You also have an opportunity to be published. So, I am currently working on an article that speaks about the federal Riot Act. I’m very excited about that and its one of the benefits of being on the Law Review.
What are your long-term career goals? I am very much interested in litigation, both criminal
law and civil procedure. My focus right now is to work for a major law firm in the Washington,
D.C. area. I am very interested in government and regulatory issues; white collar defense and
government investigations and D.C. is the best place for that. A lot of the major law firms offer
amazing training and mentorship opportunities. You have an opportunity to work for many
clients and jurisdictions around the world as well as work in a lot of different industries. So, I’m
hoping to gain a lot of experience and, thereby, become a better advocate for clients.
You have a sister in law school at the University of Florida, any thoughts about that? My sister
and I have always been very supportive of each other. We motivate each other and one of us is always willing to help the other one. We studied together for the LSAT, we discuss career goals and professional opportunities, interviews, life. She is my best friend. That’s the way we were raised. That relationship will always continue. I am very excited about her upcoming
graduation. She is an excellent oral advocate and will be a great representative for whomever
is lucky enough to have her as their lawyer.
Any closing statement? Yes, anyone reading this article that wants to be a lawyer, you should
know there is no dream too big for you to achieve. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to do
something related to law, but I never dreamed I would be at Harvard. Even though I went to
Dartmouth for my undergraduate work, I still wasn’t sure. In high school, there were people
that told me that may be too challenging, and my grades may not be good enough and don’t
set my goals so high, but my family always encouraged and supported me. If you put in the
work and find good mentors and people that want to help you get there, you can get there. I
went through the public school system and if I can make it, so can someone else. I hope people can take my story and learn from it.
Rachel’s sister, Ashley, is a high honors graduate of Tampa’s Riverview High and a third-year law student at the University of Florida. They are the daughters of Ray and Starlin Favors of Valrico FL. They credit the love and support of their parents for their success. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel and Ashley posted several videos on Facebook where they gave advice to minorities on how to prepare and gain admission into law school.